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Extreme obesity cuts lifespan more than smoking: Study

Published on Jul 10, 2014 6:21 AM
 
That obesity can cut life short by causing strokes and other illnesses comes as no surprise, but a study reported on Tuesday quantifies the toll: The most extreme cases cut a person's lifespan more than cigarettes. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - That obesity can cut life short by causing strokes and other illnesses comes as no surprise, but a study reported on Tuesday quantifies the toll: The most extreme cases cut a person's lifespan more than cigarettes.

The analysis, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, is the largest-ever study of the effect of extreme obesity on mortality. It found that people who are extremely obese - for someone of average height, carrying an extra 45kg or more - die 6.5 to 13.7 years earlier than peers with a healthy weight.

The study, based on data from 20 large studies of people in the United States, Sweden and Australia, comes as rates of obesity have soared. Worldwide, nearly 30 per cent of people, or 2.1 billion, are either obese or overweight.

"Overweight" is defined as having a body mass index, or weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters, of 25.0 to 29.9. At the low end, that is 68 kg for someone 1.65m tall. "Obesity" means a BMI of 30 or higher 82kg at 1.65m. "Extreme obesity" is a BMI of 40 or higher, or 109kg at that height.

 
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